Philly state senators push minimum wage increase bill

State Senators Tina Tartaglione and Vincent Hughes today tried to rally support for legislation to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania from $7.25 to $9 per hour by 2015.

The Philadelphia Democrats insisted the proposal, introduced in April, was not dead-on-arrival in a Republican controlled General Assembly that flatly rejected a similar effort two years ago.

Tartaglione cited legislation she successfully pushed in 2006, which raised the minimum wage in the state to $7.15 in 2007. "Little by little, we were able to change the mindset of folks," Tartaglione said.

The Senate Democrats had a governor from their own party, Gov. Rendell in office then to sign that legislation into law.  Tartaglione and Hughes said they need just three Republicans to join the 23 Democrats in the Senate to pass the bill.  But they conceded that the state House is now even more conservative than it was in 2006 and 2011.

Tartaglione submitted similar legislation in October 2011 that was sent to the Senate's Labor & Industry Committee, never to be seen again.  Her latest version of that legislation was submitted on April 18 and sent to the same committee, where it has languished without action.

It would increase the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2014 and to $9 per hour on Jan. 1, 2015

Tartaglione on Monday also introduced legislation that would increase the minimum wage for tipped employees such as waiters and waitresses from the current $2.83 per hour to 70 percent of the state's minimum wage.

Tartaglione, asked if Gov. Corbett would support an increase in the minimum wage as a moral or economic issue, joked that he was more likely to support it as a political issue, noting that he is up for re-election in 2014.

"This issue is hot," Tartaglione said. "So I expect we'll be able to wear him down so that we can pass it."